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Press Release

Former Oglala Sioux Tribe President Sentenced to Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

RAPID CITY - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that U.S. District Judge Linda R. Reade has sentenced a Batesland, South Dakota, man convicted of six counts of Wire Fraud, one count of Larceny, and one count of Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization. The sentencing took place on June, 20, 2024.

Julian Bear Runner, 39, was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison on each count to run concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $800 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund and $82,483.71 in restitution to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

Bear Runner was indicted by a federal grand jury in September of 2022. He was found guilty of wire fraud, larceny, and embezzlement following a three-day jury trial in April of 2024.

Between January of 2019 and January of 2020, at Pine Ridge, Bear Runner, while acting in his capacity as President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, fraudulently submitted travel vouchers for official business travel and received payment for travel that he was not entitled to as he was not actually traveling. Bear Runner submitted multiple travel authorizations to different locations outside South Dakota, including New Mexico, Montana, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, and Arizona, claiming the need to travel for official business. As a result of the fraudulently submitted travel authorizations, Bear Runner received more than $80,000 in advance travel payments but did not go on the travel. Instead, Bear Runner cashed the checks at a casino, gambled, and stayed in local hotels.

This case was brought pursuant to the Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between participating agencies, to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota’s Indian country communities. The Guardians Project is another step of federal law enforcement’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination, and positive action on behalf of tribal communities. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the participating agencies include: the FBI; the Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development; IRS Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

For additional information about the Guardians Project, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (605) 330-4400.  To report a suspected crime, please contact law enforcement at the federal agency’s locally listed telephone number.

This case was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Patterson and Megan Poppen prosecuted the case.

Bear Runner was immediately remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.



Updated June 20, 2024